On 22 May a suspected bomb attack took place on a crowded street in Urumqi, Xinjiang province, with reports of over 30 killed. This follows a bomb and knife attack in Urumqi’s South Railway station on 30 April which killed 3 people and injured 79.
No Peregrine travellers were in the area at the time. Security throughout Xinjiang province is high and Peregrine groups visiting Urumqi will continue to avoid highly populated areas.
China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, laptops, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark.
There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint.
Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so.
Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.
Fire protection standards in Chinese accommodation are not always the same as at home. Check fire precautions including access to fire exits.
Few travellers will experience any safety issues in Kyrgyzstan if general precautions are followed. Take care if you go out after dark. Keep large amounts of money hidden at all times and be wary of strangers offering help or being over-friendly. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when using currency exchange offices. There have been reports of thefts carried out by uniformed police officers and gangs. Avoid walking alone at night and don’t travel in unofficial taxis. Avoid using local buses and mini-buses as they are not always properly maintained and are notorious for pick-pockets. Demonstrations on political and socio-economic themes occur both in central Bishkek and in other parts of the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.
Uzbekistan is generally a very safe place to travel. Policemen, or sometimes those pretending to be policemen, may seek to impose an on-the-spot fine. If you are any doubt you should ask for an ID or pay any fines at the nearest police station. Keep valuables out of sight and avoid unlit or remote areas. Avoid obvious displays of wealth, especially in rural areas. Avoid walking alone at night.